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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Taiwan 台湾 2014 Day#1 - Taichung 台中 Ino Home minsu 民宿 + Fengjia Night Market 逢甲夜市



It had been 2 years since I last travelled to Taipei 台北 and I'm glad we ventured out of Taipei this time and landed my parents, brother, Fit and I in Taichung 台中! Although it was a short 3 days in Taichung 台中, we got more than what we bargained for and I highly recommend you guys to consider this state if you plan to head to Taiwan 台湾 for holidays!

Our first day was simply R&R because we would be landing at Taoyuan Airport at noon and take Taiwan's High Speed Rail (HSR) to Taichung. I planned to check into Ino Home, which was the minsu we stayed in Taichung 台中 and Fengjia Night Market 逢甲夜市 for dinner/supper. 

Our itinerary for Taiwan 台湾 Day #1:
Singapore Changi Airport -> Taoyuan Airport -> U-Bus #705 -> Taoyuan HSR -> Taichung HSR -> Ino Home -> Fengjia Night Market 逢甲夜市





We took off at 7.30a.m via Jetstar and landed at Taoyuan close to 11.30a.m. We were pretty knocked out since we woke up at ungodly half past 3a.m. After a long wait to get our passports chopped, I quickly looked out for the telecommunications counter to get data plan for our 6 days' stay in Taiwan.



My parents relaxed one corner while we queue up at and signed up for Plan B for unlimited data plan for 5 days because we would be leaving for home on the 6th day. It was SGD$12.80 for each SIM card. 


Taiwan Mobile 大哥大 seemed to be the most popular one with the longest queue, and I came across some bloggers who chose this telco as well, so that was how we conclude that this should be it! The rates across all telcos are pretty much the same. During my stay in Taiwan, the coverage was quite good except some hilly areas like Lavender Cottage 薰衣草森林 in Taichung台中.



My  awesome travel companion!

We bought a NT30 (SGD 1.30) bus ticket per person to Taoyuan HSR and the short journey just took about 10 minutes. Look out for berth 12 to board bus #705. Operating hours for Ubus is from 6.00am to 12.00a.m, and the frequency is about 5-10 minutes.



Daily tickets are purchased at this counter and we paid NT590 (SGD$25) per person for allocated seats because we were carrying luggages and our lunch bento sets. Being the kiasu Singaporeans, I decided to pay a bit more just so that we could all sit down and enjoy our lunch during our ride.



I was pleasantly surprised that the HSR seats were super comfortable! They were even more so than some budget airlines and they have drop-down trays for passengers to enjoy their meals in the trains, cleaners to clear our thrash and a "dim-sum trolley" with small snacks. Yeap, I was super impressed and come to think about it, the NT590 and the subsequent HSR ride up to Taipei was really worth it. 





It's in my bucket list to have bento 便当 set while in the train in Taiwan and just when I thought the comfy seats were impressive enough, the 便当 was really tasty and doesn't hurt the wallet at all!



Red braised beef noodles - NT75 (SGD3.20)
Curry Chicken rice Bento Set - NT60 (SGD2.60)

I love the texture of the beef noodles, though the chunks of beef were quite small and not that satisfying. The soup was tasty though, slightly spicy but I like that the beef smell was not overpowering.

The boyfie had the curry chicken bento set and he lapped up the entire box right down to the last pearl (rice)! The generous chunks of chicken cutlet in the curry rice bento set was superb and you must, I repeat, must, have Taiwanese pearl rice when you are at Taiwan. It's a sin not to indulge in a few bowls of sticky white pearl rice in Taiwan!

So after 30 minutes of train ride and another 10 minutes of cab ride, we finally arrived at Ino Home B&B Cafe!






It's perfect timing for us as we reached at about 3.00pm, just in time for check-in. As if the bedrooms were not awesome enough, waking up to aromatic coffee brewing downstairs was just pure bliss for us.



I found it really cool that we can rent books or DVDs from the counter staff any time of the day, just look at the huge collection they have here! There was a night where we came back at about 8pm and they were screening a blockbuster with a temporary projector right in front of the counter and it was free for the public too!








We will usually have our breakfast at a long table near the counter and they served really yummy and nutritious breakfast every day during our stay! It was a pity though, that we did not have more time in our stay at Taichung, having coffee by the windows during mid day would be so relaxing and therapeutic. Not to mention that it's along a small alley from the main road, it's not along a busy street and we slept like babies every night during our stay.

Now on to the rooms!




This was us lovebirds' bedroom while my parents and bro took the more spacious bedroom. I was attracted immensely to the rustic charm of the room, with hanging light bulbs, a huge wooden mirror and high windows with the sunlight streaming into the room. I was even more grateful for the clean, fluffy white bed with enough pillows for a mini pillow fight. 

Another plus point of the room was the strategically-positioned power points at our bedside table that makes charging our gadgets while we connect to the social world at night. The room also came with basic amenities like air-conditioning, basic toiletries, clean towels, hair dryer and TV. The whole house is wifi-enabled.

Although Ino Home has only 2 bedrooms, there's an option for an extra bed should you be travelling in a group of no more than 5. I think the 2 bedrooms are just nice and cosy for a family of 5.



This was the other bedroom with an extra bed in the form of a futon! I was worried initially that my bro will have a backache cos he's not used to sleeping on a non-bed, but it was very comfortable surprisingly. In fact, my mom and he took turn to sleep on the futon for the 2 nights.



The cosy talking points in the room were really thoughtful and the balcony became my dad's beer and smoking corner at night. Guessed the alcohol kept him nice and warm because we were shivering at 13 degrees outside.


Ino Home B&B Cafe



After settling down and a short nap, off we go to Fengjia Night Market 逢甲夜市! 

I read that 逢甲夜市 is the largest night market in the whole of Taiwan and now I have no doubt about that! We were really spoilt for choice every night - Grilled squid or Steak or Teppanyaki or Tempura or Chicken Cutlet?? We are quite adventurous when it comes to food, so here's a mini food guide with some of the food that I found worth trying.






Fried Golden Squid chunks 花枝烧- NT150 (SGD$6.40)

The fried squid was a mixture of squid and fish paste, and we get to choose the seasoning we want. I went for the salt & pepper and it turned out to be a tad too salty but that was resolved easily by the bubble tea readily available at every other stall. 





Grilled Scallops 干贝烧 - NT50 (SGD$2.20)

The grilled scallops were very fresh and juicy. I was so glad it didn't taste like rubber bands and it was quite a reasonable portion as well. Again, we could choose the type of seasoning and I went with the combo one, that has a little bit of all seasoning, which turned out to be a not bad choice!


Grilled Squid 烤鱿鱼 - NT100 (SGD$4.30)

My dad and I are squid-lovers. We see one we eat one. We couldn't let go of the chance to have freshly grilled squid right in front of our eyes for just NT100. I love the slightly burnt smell and it was chewy without being too hard, so I thought it was pretty perfect. 



Spring onion pancakes 葱蛋 - NT30 (SGD1.30)

The pancakes were a bit soft, but I think the thin layer of egg with a splatter of spring onion was quite interesting. It's a bit like our thosai without the strong spices smell. Geddit geddit? I wished they went a bit soft on the sauce though, it was quite salty and we had to scramble to look for drinks. 





Chicken cutlet was true to 3D presentation.
Fried Chicken Cutlet 鸡排- NT60 (SGD$2.60)

If you are at Fengjia Night Market 逢甲夜市, you have to have chicken cutlet from Demon Chicken Cutlet 恶魔鸡排. The stall is located at the small sheltered section within the whole night market with '5-star toilet'. Even though there were long queues, we had this every night because it was so damn good! The juicy chicken breast meat was fried to golden perfection.


Tempura 甜不辣 - NT45 (SGD$1.90)
I think I have a penchant for chewy stuff because I was always on the lookout for tempura 甜不辣 at all the night markets in Taiwan. It's made from fish paste, and the usual suspects included radish, fish ball, chewy fish paste drenched in yong tau foo sauce. You can even request for the soup to be added to the bowl after you're done with the tempura.






Teppanyaki 铁板烧 Chicken/Beef/Pork - NT110 (SGD$4.70)

We had Teppenyaki 铁板烧 for dinner during the second night and it was really yummy! It was a first for my parents and they were so fascinated with the whole frying process right in front of their eyes. Each of the choice of meat comes with 2 vegs and a bowl of white pearl rice. There is free-flow of drinks and soup as well, and the "hibiscus-like" drink tasted so refreshing and yummy. Really felt the #taiwanlove. 






Japan Boat Takoyaki - NT40 (box of 6) (SGD$1.70)

Another street food not to be missed is Japan Boat Takoyaki! I was totally clueless on the popularity of these octopus tako balls and to think that we just joined in the long queue. *erhemSingaporeanserhem* The balls were slightly crispy with a tinge of sweetness and the octopus was very fresh and tender. I really like the texture and the tinge of sweetness was a winning combo with the terriyaki sauce and tuna flakes. Do try the wasabi one! It's an interesting taste. ;)

Wa they even have a website lor! It does look like there's only 1 outlet in Taichung at Fengjia Night Market. 


Chinese dessert 粉圆 - NT45 (SGD$1.90)

The Taiwan's dessert are also not to be missed! I love the mixture of taro balls, sago balls, chunks of sweet potato and grass jelly in their sweet soup! Especially when you order the hot version and have it on a windy cold night is super duper shiok!


Taiwan Ice Cream - NT50 (SGD$2.30)

I shall end off my Day #1 with this friggin' tall ice cream cone. You can practically find it anywhere in Taiwan, the caveat is that it's not as tasty as it looks. We ordered merely to try! It is refreshing after a few rounds of grilled snacks and chicken cutlet though. 

Do share in the comment box below if you come across some snack that I should take note of because I definitely will head back again sometime soon (cross fingers)!

I hoped you have enjoyed reading my Day #1 adventure in Taichung! Look out for  Day #2 where we visit a flower farm, lavender cottage and recommendations on where to get yummy suncakes in Taichung!

//Edited:
I engaged a driver for 2 days in Taichung and he's really helpful and humorous! My whole family was tickled pink during the whole trip by him and his charges were really reasonable. Some of you have asked me about the number of hours that we engage him per day, and the thing is, we initially agreed to 8 hours a day, but as the day goes by, we had so much fun that we exceed 8 hours every day, and he did not charge us extra at all! Though we tipped him a bit at the end of the trip cos we really had a good time and his service was very good in our opinion. I'm not paid to do this, but here's his contact:

Mr Lin 林先生
HP no.: +886 925 580 202
He's very tech-savvy, able to Whatsapp and send voice notes!


Aspoonfulofsoul Taiwan Travel Diary:
Day #2: Taichung 台中 Flower Market 中社花市 + Lavender Cottage 薰衣草森林 + Ah Ming Shi Tai yang Biscuits 阿明师太阳饼 + Miyahara 宮原眼科

56 comments:

  1. Hi there! I chanced upon your blog while searching for reviews on Ino Home. Just wanna ask is Fengjia Night Market 逢甲夜市 far away from Ino Home? How did you all travel there?

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    Replies
    1. Hey Mandy! I booked a driver for my holiday in Taichung, so usually he will send us to the Fengjia at night. However, we will take a cab back to Ino Home ourselves and the journey is less than 10min, and cab fare is less than SGD$10? Hope this helps!

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    2. Thanks for the info Sandy! I enjoyed your photos and posts too!

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    3. hi sandy,

      may i know how much does the driver charge for a whole day trip. do you happen to have his contact? thanks;.

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    4. Hello! The driver's name is Mr Lin, you can whatsapp him at +886 925 580 202. He charged us at NT3,500 per day for 5 of us, so if you travel in small group, it may be cheaper. HTH!

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  2. Hi

    I also love Fengjia night market. Been there three times liao.

    If your family like flowers maybe can go during cherry blossom period. Just went to lalashan to view cherry blossom with my family this Mar. Hvnt posted my pix yet on blog. But u can look at my prev alishan cherry blossom trip: sflow00.wordpress.com

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    Replies
    1. Hello! Nice pictures! I would love to visit Taiwan again next year, thanks for recommending your blog! :)

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  3. Hey there, is it easy for you to get a cab from Fengjia night market to Ino Home?

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    Replies
    1. Hello! There's a lot of cabs from Fengjia night market, so not to worry about this!

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    2. Thank you. You have been really helpful.

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  4. Hi

    how many hours did you engage the driver for NT 3,500?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mabel! Thanks for dropping by. We engaged him for 8 hours, but he's kind enough to extend a little beyond that, but it's out of goodwill for his customers. Hope this helps!

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  5. hello! may i ask how did you book the Ino Home place? I've googled but it only shows the official web and its all in chinese.

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    1. Hello! I emailed at them at inohome.service@gmail.com to book the rooms, and I sent the email in Chinese, hope this helps! :) Thanks for checking out my blog!

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  6. Hi Sandy, chanced upon your blog when I was searching for Taichung min su. Nice blog and info you had provided. I will be travelling in a group of 6. May I ask if the min su that you had stayed, does the rooms come with attached bathroom or was it a common bathroom? Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Beverly! Yes, the rooms come with attached bathroom. :) Good choice to visit Taichung!

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  7. Hi sandy,
    May I know do your driver speak english? Thanks
    Lina

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lina! Nope, the driver only speaks mandarin.

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  8. Hi Sandy,

    Could you advise me how did you book Ino Home, couldn't find the email or any booking site for this. pls advise, thanks. Your picture is really good.

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    Replies
    1. Hi! You can email them at inohome.service@gmail.com. Hope this helps! :)

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    2. Tried, but no response from them since 17 sept. Thanks Sandy :)

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  9. Hi,
    May I know how's the payment mode like for Imo Home?
    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi there! I paid in cash when I checked into Ino Home. You can email t hem at inohome.service@gmail.com for more details, I sent them an email 2 weeks ago and they replied quite promptly. Hope you get to stay in this awesome house!

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  10. Hi! Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your blog. I am going to Taiwan next month, so your post has been very helpful and informative. =)

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  11. Hi Jenny! Thank you for the positive comment! I'm very glad you found the blog post useful for you! :)

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  12. Hi Sandy, great blog! May I know if you emailed Ino Home in English or Chinese? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi there! I emailed them in Chinese. :)

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  13. hello sandy,

    can i ask, how many days would you recommend to stay in Taichung? Its my first time going there!

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    Replies
    1. Hi there! I would recommend at least a week! There's quite a lot of attractions to visit in Taichung and if you're not in a hurry (and budget is not really a problem), cater some time to slowly explore the area. :) I will also recommend to go in Feb - March where it's not too cold!

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  14. Hi Sandy,

    May I know which season (trip period) you went Taichung?

    Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Tsquar, I went to Taichung in early April. :)

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  15. Hi! I am going TaiChung end of the month. Just to get some advice if it's better to stay in Taichung near FengJia for 2 nights and travel day trip to Sun Moon Lake? Or its more wise to stay 1 night at each location? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi there! Hmm. It depends on your itinerary for your Taichung trip. I'd recommend to stay near Fengjia because that would be your end point evey night I presume! :D I think staying at Sun Moon Lake area may be a lil bit more ex cos it's a tourist attraction afterall. If you have engaged a driver, staying at a more central area like Fengjia will be better. :)

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  16. Hi sandy,
    Can I ask if inohome is near fengjia night market? if I were to stay there is there a restricted time that I need to be back or its flexible? Thanks in advance! :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi there! Inohome is about 10 min away and there's no restricted time that you have to back at the home. :) The owner will pass you the key and you can just let yourselves into the house after the cafe is closed and locked. (Cafe is below the sleeping rooms) Hope this helps!

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  17. Hi sandy, just wondering the driver you engage follow you during ur visits or he will drive off and return when you are leaving. did you or ur companions leave any luggages or belongings in the car while visiting other places?

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    1. Hi Yew Seng! Hmm... the driver followed us for certain tourist attractions like the flower market and lavendar cottage.. but for the rest like Sun Moon Lake that needs entrance fee, he drived off and return when we're ready. I bought taiwan SIM card with data only when I was there and just whatsapp him when we need him to pick me up. Our luggages are kept in the minsu though, so there wasn't any time when it was left with him only and we carry our own small bags when we visit the attractions and stuff. Hope these help!

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  18. Hi Sandy,

    Are there, by any chance, any drivers that provide service for two?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jerome! Mr Lin can drive for 2 persons as well! Just that the service fee is still the same. Hope that helps! :)

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  19. Hi
    So did u select the places for visit or he suggested?

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    Replies
    1. Both actually. I told him what are the kind of places I have to go, like Sun Moon Lake and strawberry farm and he see how's the routes and suggest some other fun places to check out.

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  20. Babe is Mr Lin driving a cab or his own transport?

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    Replies
    1. Hello! He's driving a cab, which is his own transport because in Taiwan, the cab drivers buy the taxis and own them.

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  21. hi, how did you book the ino home? through which website? hahah cuz im going to taiwan at the end of this year and is planing now. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi!

      I booked through sending them an email to inohome.service@gmail.com in Chinese! Hope you love Taichung as much as I do!

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  22. hi Sandy,

    Referring to your comment above, you mentioned that Ino home is 10 minutes away from feng jia, are we able to walk there or we have to take bus or cab over?

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    Replies
    1. Hi 净惟! You will have to take a cab over!

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  23. You dont see a lot of people queueing up for Chung Hwa (Emome) sim card?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Sandy!

    Can I just check if you recognise Mr Lin by his taxi license plate or did he send a picture of himself to you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dennesa! I first recognised Mr Lin by his taxi license plate. :)

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  25. Hi Sandy,
    How far is Ino home to HSR station?

    Frankie

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  26. Hi Sandy, can i know Mr Lim is around how old? Thanks so much!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Weiqin! He is in his late 40s or early 50s!

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  27. Hi Sandy, does the owners know any English? If I send an email would they be able to read it? Is there a phone no. available?

    Monica

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  28. Hi Monica! The owners know very basic English, and they do reply emails. There's no phone number that I know of though.

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